Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Linnea's Lights Blog Contest Winner - Caitlin Feener

Guest post by Caitlin Feener
for Linnea's Light Blog Contest - Winner!

A Mother’s Nose Always Knows

I have my mother’s eyes, her keen sense of direction, and unwavering compassion for all forms of life. But above all of these wonderful traits, plus many more, I inherited her unbelievable sense of smell.

And when I say unbelievable, I mean unbelievable.

Considering that I could probably apply for a job with the FBI as a drug and body-sniffing police dog, inheriting my mother’s sense of smell has had its ups and downs. I have watched my mother do mold inspections while house hunting using nothing but her single handy-dandy nose tool. I have witnessed her relocate my child self to certain areas in a room due to faint detections of human excrement in the air. And I have watched her face cringe in disdain over “that horrible undertone” she smelled in just about every single perfume or lotion I excitedly brought home during my teenage years.

While our sharp noses haven’t always been a picnic for either one of us (especially when my brother hit puberty and had a constant musk of grease, dirt and oil about him, which was later coined as the “adolescent boy” scent), my inherited sense of smell but has also allowed me to experience some of the most incredible moments in life.

My nose is like a camera, capturing the essence of a certain place in time. When I walk into any home, I can smell the carpet, the dinner cooking in the oven, the air freshener, the walls, and the faint trace of memories—all bundled into one unique and unforgettable package. I can smell vacations—Santa Barbara smells like cherry candy and ocean air. Oregon smells like marionberries and pine trees. Grass Valley smells like lavender, and France smells like Campari, rainy days, and Amber Myrrh lotion. I can smell my childhood bedroom. I can smell playing outside on warm summer nights. I can smell the first time I fell in love. And I will always and forever be able to smell my mom.

My mom is a rose. Maintaining a rose garden in every house we’ve lived in, she would plant a particular rose bush for different people in her life. I was always the Peace rose. Rose is always a note that I know my mom will enjoy in a candle or a perfume. She adores Votivo Rush of Rose—such a pure representation of what a rose really smells like. I recently had the opportunity to smell Carriére Fréres Damask Rose blend was completely captivated by the alluring, mysterious blend. I can’t wait to surprise my mom with this candle at Christmas this year—I know she will love it.

My mom is tea. When I was a child, I have many memories of my mom sitting her pitcher in the sun so she could have a large batch of fresh iced tea. I used to hate the stuff unless I added tablespoons of sugar, but I still loved the smell of her lemon tea basking in the sun. To this day, tea is still her drink of choice. Tocca Bianca has captivated her soul, and she wears the gorgeous green tea lemon-scented perfume every single day. She has also recently discovered the wonderful world of Starbucks chai tea lattes, so I’m looking forward to incorporating a beautiful chai blend candle into her life.

My mom is grapefruit. A true citrus lover, I remember when my mom went through her grapefruit phase when I was a kid. She would have grapefruit every single morning and attempt to get me to eat it too. Once again, I used to hate the stuff unless I added tablespoons of sugar (I’m sure you see the trend). To this day, she favors grapefruit candles of all sorts. If it’s a grapefruit blend, I know my mom will be hooked. One of her favorites is Aura Clairvoyant. I gave her a small tin and she burned it down to nothing in about 24-hours flat. I can’t wait to give her NEST Grapefruit, a fragrance I know she is going to fall in love with.

My mom is violet. Those decadently floral French violet candies are one of my fondest childhood memories. My mom always used to have them around and my parents would bring them home for me every time they went to Europe (the pre-Cost Plus World Market days). Violet is a common bond I share with my mom—we both can’t get enough of it. One of her favorite violet fragrances is Morning Violet by Votivo. Pure and beautiful, this candle is relaxing and nostalgic for us both.

My mom is all of these notes, blended with the rich strength of sandalwood, the sweetness of sugar, the comfort of amber, and the soothing nature of chamomile. She smells like home-cooked meals, 50 hour work weeks while keeping a perfectly clean home, and a selfless dedication to making the world a better place for the people she loves. I will always be able to honor and love the fragrance of my mom.

Linnea's Light Blog Contest Winner - Ryan Patrick Kelley

Guest post by Ryan Patrick Kelley
for Linnea's Light Blog Contest  - Winner!

It was my mother who started me off on my love for fine-fragrances. Some of my earliest memories of my mom revolve around beautiful scents. As a child, I can remember my mother buying me a collection of Strawberry Shortcake figurines that each smelled like a perfectly sweetened fruit. I held onto these toys in a vice grip of death and carried them with me everywhere I went. If anyone tried to take them from me I would have an instant melt-down/tantrum of doom. I was probably only four years old, but thinking back, those small treasures that I toted around with me were most likely the beginning to my long romance with the exotic world of fragrance.

I have always felt that scent is the finest of the senses. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. You can tell more about your surroundings in that filling inhalation then you can with your sight and hearing. Your eyes can only show you so much. But, your nose...your nose knows the truth! One sniff and you can tell whether you are somewhere clean or somewhere...well, not so clean. One deep breath in and you can be calmed or you can be appalled. You can be filled with ease or shrouded in anxiety. Fragrance has the power to switch a person's mood one way or another. It is that aspect of fragrance that I find the most magical.

photo from thisbuddyofmine.com
When I think of fragrance and how it is has impacted my life I am always brought back to those little toys. They truly awakened a love for scrumptious scents inside me that has never backed down. My mother was always very encouraging of this. I think mainly because my mother always smelled so wonderful herself. I can't pinpoint my mother smelling of any one specific perfume. I remember her vanity always being littered with various perfume bottles. She changed it up so much that none of them ever stood out. I do remember her always smelling fresh like the soaps she used. Ivory soap will always be associated with my mother. Or of her smelling of baby oil in the summers when she would take us swimming. She would douse herself in it and tan by the pool. Slicked up and shiny like a seal basking on the rocks in the flaming sun. Thinking back, it's quite scary knowing how often she would literally BAKE herself in oil. I guess her Italian skin could handle the vicious rays of the sun. I, on the other hand, inherited my father's Irish skin and would probably combust into a ball of flame were I to coat myself in any type of oil. How fair is that? Thanks Dad!

I remember my mother always lighting candles around the house. She always wanted everything to smell fresh and pretty. I definitely inherited that quality from her. Her love for sweet and savory scents has always been apparent but she has also always cherished floral based scents. I remember moving from California to Ohio when I was five years old and my mother lighting candles around our new home. It's probably only an odd 'made up' memory but I can almost see her in my mind frantically spritzing perfume on things and waving her arms around like a lunatic to try and run the previous home-owner's smell out of the house.

But, oh...there were candles.

There were ALWAYS candles.

Thinking back I try to place specific brands or labels on them...but, I can't. It wasn't up until the late 90's (when I was in high school) that familiar luxury lines started popping up in the house. I remember VOTIVO being one of the first scents to influence my OWN personal spending habits with home fragrance. Red Currant was an instant hit among all of us in our family. Soon after my love-affair with Votivo I discovered Voluspa and was hooked. I remember it fondly because I came across them the same year I graduated high school. It was a monumental time in my life in so many ways and Voluspa fragrances were such a comfort to me during all the stressors of growing up and moving on with my life.

I can remember holiday's filled with exquisite scents wafting through the air. Mom always had gorgeous scents burning in the home during the cheerful Holiday season. Cozy nights sitting by our fireplace playing games and cuddling up together as a family will always be some of my most cherished memories of home-life. The house always smelled like fresh baked desserts and the citrusy scent of our mammoth eleven foot Frasier Fir married with the aroma of smoking firewood. I wish I could go back in time and capture the exact essence of that scent. It was so unique. If I had to compare it to any scent that is on the market now It would be Nest's Holiday.

There is something incredibly evocative about Nest fragrances. The scents transcend merely being "pretty fragrances". They remind you of things you love. Grapefruit by Nest reminds me of mornings before school when my mom would cut up fresh fruits and try to coerce my brother and I into eating them before running off to the bus. Of course, we never did. We scarfed down the cereal and muffins instead...but, to this day I always think of dewy spring mornings and the beginning of summer when it comes to Nest Grapefruit. It brings me back to my youth and I love that about it.

It's funny that the Holidays are near and that I once again find myself lighting candles to cheer my mood and brighten my spirit. I gravitate towards the gourmand blends this time of year. The cold weather always makes me want something comforting. Something completely warming to the soul. I go straight for Nest's Wild Oats & Bourbon to fill the home with it's richly sweet and spicy blend. Of course it's a love not wasted between my mother and I. She adores it just as much as I do!

My mom and I find ourselves fighting over fragrances now. She sneaks into my closet of candles and kidnaps them.I will find them scattered about her living space. A Modern Alchemy Dia De Los Muertos here, a Nest Bamboo there. Whenever I can't find a scent I instantly know who the culprit is and where it most likely wound up.

I have turned my mother into a candle-lover on a whole new level! It feels good to know that I have introduced her to brand's like Aquiesse (she recently took my Mandarin Tea and has been fiendishly obsessed with it!), Nest (She's a Grapefruit fan!), Voluspa (Let's not get started on how often she smuggled my Santiago Huckleberry's from me!), Belle Fleur (She went nuts over Kyara Clove) and Thymes (Moonflower is one of her all-time faves!!!).

It's funny that my mother influenced my sense of scent so much and always motivated me to try new things and now I find myself sharing MY finds with her. The circle of giving has continued! I guess that's just how life works! We all find ourselves coming full circle at some point or another. Even with something as small as luxury scents.

I love my mom. She is truly one of my best friends. I appreciate everything she has done for me in my life and love that we share a common bond through fragrance together. I hope to share many, many more years of candle-sharing with her! :)

Linnea's Lights Blog Contest Entry by Bonnie Jacobs

Guest post by Bonnie Jacobs
for Linnea's Lights Blog Contest

The best fragrance experience I have ever had was during my first trip to Maui. It was a beautiful rainy evening and I decided to take my Voluspa Truffle White Cocoa candle outside with me on the balcony.  It just does not get better then sitting outside on my balcony in a comfy cozy chair listening to the sound of the rain gently coming down while looking at the beautiful palm trees surrounding my hotel room with the smell of chocolate in the air from my Voluspa candle.

I just love that Voluspa makes a wide variety of candles in tins because they are great for traveling. I do not like to travel without my candles and they are easy to take with me as I can just toss them in my suitcase and not worry about them breaking.

Whether it is the holidays, a beautiful vacation, relaxing with a nice bubble bath, or just curling up on the couch watching a movie the experience would not be complete without a beautiful candle in the background. Candles have the wonderful ability to relax, soothe, and comfort me and they add to my day to day experiences as well as my special ones.

Linnea's Lights Blog Contest Entry by Andrea Villarreal

Guest post by Andrea Villarreal
for Linnea's Lights Blog Contest

Linnea's Lights

I am telling you these are the BEST candles ever!!!

I first bought one in Laguna Beach at a store called Anthology. It was White Coral and I absolutely fell in love! I had it burning in my room and you could literally smell it through the whole house. The fragrance is so saturated and yummy. They also have cotton wicks and burn really cleanly. I bought a Yankee Candle at Target the other day and literally had to set it outside after blowing it out. It refused to stop smoking!!

Then at Remnants of the Past I found them at The Beautiful Life booth and they had Pumpkin! Oh my gosh I can not begin to tell you how fantastic it smelled!! It took me right back to my mom's kitchen on a Thanksgiving morning! Nostalgia:)

So now I am going to try some of their Winter scents and I found a really great website called Candles Off Main. Now in the stores they run $32-34. On the site they are all $30 with no tax. And even better FREE shipping and handling!!

They have tons of other companies as well like Archipelago Botanicals, Votivo, Modern Alchemy and about 30 others. So if you are looking for your favorite scent or looking to try something new. Check them out Candles Off Main. I ordered Lavender, Winter and Fireside:)

Have a wonderful day!

Linnea's Lights Blog Contest Entry by Kate Collins

Guest Post by Kate Collins
for Linnea's Lights Blog Contest

The most haunting, endearing remnants of childhood are the fragrances imprinted permanently upon our brains, called up again and again, floods of memories, at every familiar whiff.

Suddenly I'm 4 again, peering up at my mother as she brews fresh coffee in a pyrex percolator on the stovetop, cinnamon coffeecake in the oven. After-work hugs from my steelworker father, faint scent of oil on his hands. I'm 6, watching grandpa change a tire on a hot summer day, machine shed air of diesel, gasoline.

Humid August, heavy with the musty breath of cornfields. Searching for newly-laid eggs in sweet straw beds under placid hens. Running barefoot in freshly tilled garden, rich black Illinois soil, popping sun-warmed raspberries into mouths with berry-stained hands.

Climbing trees, smells of leaves and bark, playing endless hours on carpets of freshly-mown grass with apple-blossom breezes, then, worn-out, coming in to dinner prepared lovingly by grandma, aromas of the old country.

photo from underground.com
Autumn brought dusty harvest and burning leaves, evening bonfires and roasting, toasting, burnt marshmallows. Long midwest winters, oh-so-cozy with Christmas pine and daily sweets as icy gales beckoned, "come play in the snow!" And now, creating happy, fragrant memories for my own children, I light a Holiday candle as sleet begins to pelt the windows, and put on a pot of coffee.

Linnea's Light Blog Contest Entry by Jim & Dorothy Samson

Guest Blog Post by Jim and Dorothy Samson
for Linnea's Lights Blog Contest

Winter seems to bring out the sensual and spicy kind of fragrances. One of my early memories is of me standing at the kitchen counter, barely able to see the spicy cookies cooling to be eaten later! Maybe I couldn’t see those yummy cookies very well, but I surely remember the spicy aroma tickling my nose!

And the sensual? Well, winter is a the perfect season to experience the “clove and sensual wood” type fragrances of Linnea’s Lights Fireside candle! A perfect combination…!

Photo from ziggityzoom.com.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Top Fan November 2011 - Bonnie Jacobs

Guest Post by Bonnie Jacobs
Our Facebook Top Fan for November 2011 as rated by Booshaka

I have been a candle lover for several years. There is just something so relaxing about coming home after a long day and watching a movie with a fantastic smelling home.

I also love to travel and my candles almost always come with me. I just love that Voluspa makes so many fragrance choices in tins.  They are great as I can just toss them in my suitcase and not worry about them breaking.

One of my all time favorite memories was during my first time to Maui. Sitting outside listening to the gentle sound of the falling rain, looking at the beautiful palm trees with the Voluspa Truffle White Cocoa 3-wick tin.  Yes I am probably the only person to take a chocolate candle with me to a tropical destination but I just adore my gourmand fragrances.

I am grateful for Candles Off Main. They run a lot of fun contests and have excellent customer service. I also love that they are really generous about sending scent sniffies which gives customers a chance to see what things smell like before purchasing.

My 3 Favorite Products at Candles Off Main

Aquiesse Sandalwood Vanille
I would be lost without this candle. When you are having one of those days this is my favorite go to candle. There is just something magical about this. When I light it I just melt and everything just kind of disappears.

Nest Wild Oats & Bourbon I just love gourmand fragrances and in my opinion this is one of the best on the market. There is just nothing like the scent of oats with a touch of ginger and bourbon. Simply fabulous! Nest candles amazed me from the first time I burned one because they are incredibly clean burning (have never seen any soot on the jar) and have the most amazing scent throw. (Since I can only choose three candles I will try to sneak in a little something extra. Shhh don’t tell! ;) I absolutely love layering candles so try burning this with Nest Pumpkin Chai it is just heavenly!)

Nest Tahiti Vanille
This is the best vanilla candle I have ever smelled and one of my favorite candles of all time. This isn’t your boring run of the mill vanilla you smell vanilla, white chocolate, and a touch of rum and caramel. It is a fabulous blend! I had to have a backup of this before I would even light the first one I loved it that much.